Biologists and volunteers get up well before the crack of dawn for quail covey counts this fall.

Biologists and volunteers get up well before the crack of dawn for quail covey counts this fall.

By: Dallas Ingram, GA DNR Wildlife Biologist – Private Lands Program

In the past few weeks of October and into November, several DNR employees and volunteers have been waking up and heading to the woods for work as early as 3:30 a.m. Waking up at this time has its advantages, like great sunrises and the sound of quail coveys calling.

This is the time of year when bobwhite quail have gathered back together in groups called coveys, and biologists can gather information on quail populations by listening for their calls.  Biologists and volunteers stand in designated locations and listen for quail to call, which only occurs about 15- 30 minutes prior to sunrise, and lasts only for a few minutes.  The covey calls are counted and this information, along with information about the weather, is entered into a formula that helps determine the number of quail present on the property.

A lot of time and preparation goes into these counts, but the information gained is invaluable for determining the effectiveness of management practices and setting quotas and harvest limits. Without DNR personnel from the Game Management Section, Forest Management Unit, Private Lands Program and numerous volunteers who go on to work their regular schedule, these counts would not be possible.

This year, DNR personnel and volunteers have been out 14 mornings to conduct counts on seven WMAs and three private lands across the state, but primarily in southwest Georgia.  About 60 people have participated to cover nearly 32,000 acres.

We would like to send a special thank you to Jason Scott’s class of students from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) for their overwhelming support this year.  Without them and our other volunteers, we would not have been able to accomplish so much.

If you are interested in helping with fall covey counts in the future, or would like information about conducting counts on your property, contact a Private Lands biologist at one of the following offices.

Southwest Georgia: 229-420-1212

Central Georgia: 478-296-6176.